Thursday, November 19, 2009


So I realized I never really went into how I turned my entire career upside down and went into personal training. I don't even really know if I mentioned I was going to do it (might have mentioned it here). I just stopped posting and then I came back and was like, "Blah, blah, quit my job, yadda yadda, and at the gym... ." So here's the story...
I had been working with a trainer at my gym downtown, and I kept complaining about how tired I always was and how much I hated my job (my soul felt it was being sucked out by the industrial strength vacuums my company sold). Slowly that turned into me asking my trainer about his certifications and how everyone at the gym had gotten into training. Finally, he just said, "Why don't you just get certified?" and it just all became so clear. He suggested that I go through ISSA, which turned out to be genius, because it's accredited by the US Department of Education, meaning that my nice office job would pay for it since it counted as continuing education!
Anyway, I planned to get certified, save up a little more money, and then transition into the new job. Well, only problem was that I hated my job SO much that it was affecting the rest of my life. I was so apathetic that I had no motivation to do anything. Except study, that is. Because I knew that the sooner I could get certified, the sooner I could get OUT of a job I knew in my heart was all wrong for me. So I studied nonstop for two months -- on the train, after work, all weekend long. I was just finishing the program when I decided that the day had come to put in my two-weeks notice. So I did, and on my last day of work, I found out I had passed my exam and had become a certified personal trainer. Whew.
Then I took a month off to just enjoy a Chicago summer. I read, I wrote, I tanned (yeah, yeah, I KNOW), I slept. I loved it, but I was ready to get back to work because I was getting restless (my Dad has told me before that he always thought I had ADHD), and, oh right, I was running out of moo-lah. So I decided I needed to start applying to gyms, but I already knew where I wanted to work. I interviewed at a few places, but I had always intended to work at the gym where I had originally trained as a client. I walked in and asked for the fitness director, and as soon as he saw me, he said, "Well, look who it is!" He had me fill out and application and set up a practical interview on the spot. I knew I was going to like this job!
Fast forward to two months later, and I'm slowly building up a client base and loving this job so much more than anything I've ever done. The days are long, and right now the pay is crappy, but I have so much more energy, and I'm so much more positive than I've been in quite some time. It was a change to go from working in a sedate office environment with mostly females to a loud gym with almost all dudes who say plenty of things that the feminist in me says I should be reporting to HR. (Kidding. Sort of.) But I really love everything about it. Work doesn't always feel like work, and exercising and talking to people are part of my job description. And I adore my coworkers, because in this job, it's not weird to be friends with the people you see most of the day. OH, and did I mention I get to wear sweats and spandex and running shoes all day? Plus, believe it or not, I actually feel like I'm using my degree more than I did before. I've always wanted to use my English and Women's Studies majors to do something with women's health/fitness, focusing especially on body image. This job is like the perfect case study for that! And I get to help people get healthy and feel better about themselves. And liking my job this much has motivated me even more to work on the other half of my dream -- writing. So, as I mentioned before, everything in my life might not be perfect right now, but I feel like I'm finally on the right track.
Big or small, what's something you've changed in your life lately?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Now?

Despite the fact that I have next to zero money. Despite the fact that I just experienced the first mini-heartbreak of my adult life. Despite the fact that Michigan football sucks this year. Despite the fact that I’m at work more than I’m at home. Despite the fact that I am still not a size 4 again like I was senior year. Despite the fact that Chicago has officially gone into winter mode. Despite the fact that I’ve got a million works in progress, but not one actual published piece of writing. Despite the fact that I don’t have everything figured out just yet.

Despite all of this, I am happy. I am more OK with the way my life is going than I have been in a long time. My head is a bit clearer, and I know where I want to go. Part of the fun of the next few years is going to be figuring out how I’ll get there. I’m more ready for this challenge than I have been in quite some time. I’m not going to come right out and say that everything is going to be great this time around, because I’ve done that before, and I’ve been wrong. But I do feel that something is different this time. I took a risk by quitting my nice, safe office job to start over as a trainer and a writer, and it’s scary, but that fear has helped me discover that I’m stronger than I ever thought I was. I started dating again, and for the first time I got tiny little cracks both in my heart and in my pride, but I learned that I still have enough glue to patch myself back up and survive. I’m enjoying life more than I have in a few years, despite the insecurity and the uncertainty, because I’ve realized that I'm making conscious choices to change the direction in which I’m headed.

I’ve made the mistake in the past of assuming that because one thing improves in my life that the whole of it will. But not this time. This time, I realize that I have to decide to be happy. That even though I am still going to have days where I don’t want to get out of bed, that even though I will still feel sometimes that nothing is going my way, I will always have the choice to look on the bright side. That I can turn it all around just by willing myself to be the optimist I was born to be.

So that’s it. I’m going to be happy.

(Watch your back, Tony Robbins. I’m gunning for your job.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

See, I'm All About Them Words

[Note: I have to say that even though this blog is called The Verbal Filter, I normally do hold back a teeny bit. There are things that I don't always want on the Internet. However, I've decided that if I want to be a true writer, I have to accept the vulnerability that comes with putting my thoughts and feelings and experiences down for anyone and everyone to read. I'm taking a cue from my favorite quote and running with it: "If we had to say what writing is, we would define it essentially as an act of courage." -Cynthia Ozick]

Do you know what hurts the most about a breakup (or even the end of an unofficial relationship)? It’s not losing that person or having an empty bed again or even wishing you hadn’t wasted X amount of time with him. It’s not having to go back to being lonely and dreading the whole dating process again and getting slightly bitter when you see a million happy couples everytime you leave the house. As much as all of these things sting, the worst part is knowing that you can never have back everything you told him. Unlike the basketball shorts he left at your place or the toothbrush you left at his, you can’t ask for your secrets back. You can’t demand that he forget all of your vulnerabilities and all of your little habits that one only sees when it’s just you and him. You can’t get those back, and that’s the scariest part.

Sure, you still possess your quirks and the little mysteries it took a while for him to solve, and maybe the next person will learn these too, but the fact that someone else still has them, well that makes you sick to your stomach. It’s not just that he knows about your affinity for really terrible pop music or that you were the world’s most awkward kid or that you can be slightly OCD. Those are the things that endear you to friends and family, and that you know someone somewhere down the line will love you for as well. Those are not the things that take an enormous amount of courage to lay out there for judgment.

These things – the terrifying things – are those that you might tell the next person, in a moment of trust, about a darker time in your life you really don’t like to revisit. Or those confessions about yourself that only come out after you take a deep breath, because you worry they could snap the relationship right in two. But the last guy, and the one before him, and maybe even the one before that has all of that information too. And it’s annoying and frustrating and downright agonizing because he’s not using it, but he has it, tucked away on a shelf. And you realize that maybe that confession to him was the thing that did break whatever you had. Yet he’s still keeping it, like the gift he got for Christmas that he never really wanted, but is too selfish to give away to someone who might really appreciate it.

Words are the worst to lose, because once you let them loose, you can never fully get them back. Because you can’t touch them, and you can’t see them, but more than any of the tangible things that come with a relationship, you can feel them. Right where it hurts the most.